Global Impacts of Earthquakes and Natural Disasters

Geovis Project Assignment @RyersonGeo, SA8905, Fall 2018

Author: Katrina Mavrou

Date: Tuesday November 13th 2018

Topic: Global Impacts of Earthquakes and Natural Disasters

Link: Natural Disasters: Earthquake


To educate an audience with a wide variety of educational backgrounds on natural disaster impacts and side effects through visualization of spatial data using Esri’s Story Map Applications. As well, to gain a personal understanding  and experience using ArcGIS online and available tools.

Data Source: USGS Earthquake Database, 2018; Global International Displacement Database, 2018.

Software: ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS Online


The topic of this project is Natural Disaster impacts, in specific Earthquakes, and analyzes the global displacement and infrastructure loss. The platform used is ArcGIS Online, using hosted feature layers, web maps and mapping applications, such as a variety of Esri’s story map applications. The data is provided from USGS Earthquake database and Global International Displacement Database. The purpose of this exercise is to utilize multiple Esri story map functions, and other online plat forms into one map.

The first step was to clean up the datasets. The CSV files were imported into Microsoft SQL Server Management Studio to preform spatial queries and extract data needed from each dataset for the displacement dataset data was extracted by year and imported into a new table. The subset data was imported into ArcGIS Pro, where is was joined to the global shapefile and exported as new layers. Each year created a new layer so that the animation tool could be used on the time enabled field to create a time lapse of displacement. Each new layer was exported as a shapefile zipped folder so that it could be imported into ArcGIS Online as a hosted feature layer.

The first section, monthly earthquake report, of the story map is created by using a live link to publish data. To do this a web map is created using the live updating CSV from USGS. The data is collected and published every 5 minutes, therefore each time the story map is opened or refreshed the map will look different from the previous time. The data is displayed using the magnitude and depth of the earthquake (Image 1). This process was repeated for the second section, the weekly earthquake report. Another feature that was used for this map is pop-ups. Each instance displayed on the map when clicked will introduce a pop-up window that gives the user more information on that specific earth quake.

Live data of Monthly Earthquakes

Image 1: Live data of Monthly Earthquakes

The next section introduces the user to fault lines, specifically San Andreas Fault located in California, USA (Image 2). Using KML and KMZ files LiDAR layers of the fault lines are displayed on a satellite image map. Data of the most tragic earthquakes are also displayed on the map. This is historic data of earthquakes with magnitude greater than 5. By clicking on each earthquake location a pop-up is enabled and gives historical facts about each instance.

San Andreas Fault and Earthquakes

Image 2: San Andreas Fault and Earthquakes

The following section of the story map regards displacement caused by earthquakes. The main screen includes a heat map of displaced people from 1980-2018. The side panel includes a story map slide show. This was created from a simple web map with time enabled layers. The presentation function was then used to create a time lapse of global displacement for each year from 2010 to 2017 (Image 3). The presentation was then embedded into the side panel of the displacement section of the story map.

Presentation of Timelapse

Image 3: Presentation timelapse

The slide displacement VS population includes a swipe and slide story map embedded into the main story map. This is a global map that swipes two layers global displacement due to natural disasters for 2017 and world population for 2017 (Image 4). The swipe and slide map allows the user to easily compare the two layers side-by-side.

Swipe and Slide Map

Image 4: Swipe and Slide Map

The last section uses a story map shortlist to display images of earthquake impacts. This uses geocoded images to place images on a map (Image 5). The main panel holds with map with pointers indicating the coordinates of the geocoded images. The side panel displays the images. When an image is clicked on it pops up with the map and information regarding the image and earthquake can be found.

Geocoded image and reference map

Image 5: Geocoded image and reference map

The purpose of this technology is to easily display spatial data for individuals who are unfamiliar with utilizing other Esri products. Story maps are an easy and interactive way for users will all backgrounds of knowledge to interact with spatial maps and learn new information on a topic.

Limitations and Summary:

The final project is a story map journal with easy navigation and educational purpose. In the future I would like to incorporate even more of Esri’s online functions and applications, to expand my understanding. As well, a limitation to the project is the amount of space allotted to each student at Ryerson with ArcGIS online. Some processing functions were unavailable or used too much space, therefore these procedures had to be processed using ArcPro and then import the final product into ArcGIS online. Overall, the project reached its purpose of providing contextual information on spatial impacts of earthquakes.